Brilliant Speed thrives back on turf in Saranac
Live Oak Plantation's homebred BRILLIANT SPEED (Dynaformer) looked like a smart turf horse in the making this winter, but his last-to-first heroics in the Blue Grass S. (G1) over Keeneland's Polytrack caused a detour to dirt for the classics. After he failed in three attempts, however, trainer Tom Albertrani returned him to turf for Sunday's $103,000 Saranac S. (G3) at Saratoga, and the talented colt responded with an emphatic 2 1/2-length score.
In fact, the Saranac was something of a Blue Grass class reunion, for the top three finishers were all Blue Grass alumni. Saranac runner-up Queen'splatekitten (Kitten's Joy), only seventh at Keeneland, was likewise happy to revert to the grass here. Saranac third King Congie (Badge of Silver) came much closer in the Blue Grass, where he was beaten a scant head in third.
The 2-1 favorite back on a more congenial surface, Brilliant Speed settled into a midpack stalking trip for John Velazquez. Up front, Queen'splatekitten took control from Chinglish (War Front) after the opening quarter in :24 1/5. As Queen'splatekitten carved out fractions of :49 4/5 and 1:14 1/5, Chinglish remained in close attendance. Live in Joy (Kitten's Joy) raced in third early, with Perregaux (Distorted Humor) and Brilliant Speed in striking range.
Rounding the far turn, Live in Joy launched a bold move and was poised to circle the leaders, but he couldn't control his own momentum. Live in Joy veered out badly into the stretch and ran himself right out of contention.
The hedge-hugging Queen'splatekitten retained command, finally put Chinglish away, and inched one length clear through one mile in 1:37. Then Brilliant Speed arrived on the scene. Producing a terrific turn of foot, he inhaled Queen'splatekitten and drew off, finishing 1 1/8 miles on the firm inner turf in 1:48 3/5. Brilliant Speed furnished mutuels of $6.50, $4.20 and $3.10.
"A perfect trip," Velazquez recapped. "I knew there wasn't going to be a lot of speed, so I wanted to be in nice position. I had a good hold of him. He was going nice the whole way around. At the quarter-pole, I asked him and he responded right away. A very good effort. He's a better horse on the grass. No doubt."
"We'll keep our options open," Albertrani said regarding surface preference. "He showed more kick today, which is what I had wanted to see on the dirt. All things considered, he might just have to stay on the grass; Polytrack might also be an option. Johnny kept him a little closer to the pace today and didn't let the lack of speed get away. He had a nice kick today. I think we'll stick with the Jamaica ([G1] on turf at Belmont Park October 8)."
Queen'splatekitten saved second by a half-length from the rallying King Congie. Sky Blazer (Sky Mesa), who reared and hit the gate at the start, was still last of 10 in midstretch, but flew home to miss third by a head. Perregaux came in fifth, trailed by Chinglish, Seal Cove (Strong Hope), the wayward Live in Joy, Clement Rock (Strong Hope) and Canaveral (GB) (Cape Cross [Ire]). Moonhanger (Malibu Moon) and Pass the Dice (Lemon Drop Kid) were scratched.
Brilliant Speed's second career stakes victory advanced his record to 12-3-2-3, $700,750. The Florida-bred broke his maiden in his fifth try as a juvenile, checking that box in a 1 1/16-mile turf test at Tampa Bay Downs on December 26, and stayed on the grass for his first two outings at three at Gulfstream Park. After suffering a photo-finish loss in the January 16 Dania Beach S., he crossed the wire a close but troubled third in the February 6 Hallandale Beach S., and was promptly elevated to second via the disqualification of King Congie.
His next appearance came in the April 16 Blue Grass, a dynamic effort that earned him a spot in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1). Not disgraced when seventh in the Run for the Roses, he tried again in the June 11 Belmont S. (G1), looming a threat before ending up a fine third. Brilliant Speed was given another chance on dirt in the July 30 Jim Dandy S. (G2) last time out at the Spa, but disappointed in a well-beaten fifth.
"In the Jim Dandy, he flattened out early," Albertrani said. "He came out of the race with so much energy, he didn't run his race. Today on the turn, he had a good kick."
Brilliant Speed is the third registered foal, but first runner, from the unraced Gone West mare Speed Succeeds. Her only subsequent registered offspring is a juvenile colt named Souper Speedy (Indian Charlie).
Speed Succeeds is a half-sister to Canadian champion older mare Serenading (A.P. Indy), winner of the 2009 Falls City H. (G2), and Grade 1-placed multiple stakes victress Handpainted (A.P. Indy), herself the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Patena (Seeking the Gold) and Canadian fillies' classic-placed Oil Painting (Distorted Humor).
Brilliant Speed's second dam, Grade 1-placed multiple stakes heroine Daijin (Deputy Minister), is a full sister to millionaire Touch Gold, who starred in the 1997 Belmont S. (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1). They are also half-siblings to Canadian Hall of Famer With Approval (Caro [Ire]), who swept his nation's Triple Crown en route to Canadian Horse of the Year honors in 1989. Both Touch Gold and With Approval have compiled successful careers at stud.
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